Even if your home seems to be tightly sealed and well-insulated, if you have a foundation that’s not insulated properly, you will experience a large loss of heat.
Foundation insulation can result in lower heating costs and may help avoid water vapor condensation problems.
Poor foundation installation can make below grade rooms very uncomfortable and can result in many problems, to much moisture, radon infiltration, and an influx of insects.
Foundation insulation is especially important if you have radiant heat system. This article will outline the various types of insulation available.
When insulating your basement you need to make sure you avoid moisture problems. Moisture can cause mold and can result in physical damage to you interior finished walls, as well as your carpeting. And mold can seriously affect your health.
For a newly constructed home, proper placed footing drainage and waterproofing should avoid most moisture problems. For an existing home, if your basement shows signs of moisture problems, these problems should be addressed immediately.
When insulation is installed on the dirt side of a basement wall it has a lot of advantages and some disadvantages also. On a positive note, it decreases what is called thermal bridging which cuts down on heat loss through the foundation. It also protects the foundation water proof coating from damage when backfilling, and acts as a vessel to protect against moisture.
In extreme climates, during freeze-thaw cycles it can also protect your home from unwanted water and reduces the possibility of condensation on basement surfaces.
Some disadvantages would be that it’s expensive when installed in an existing building and it may still be vulnerable to an insect infestation.
Many experts believe that the best way to keep your basement dry is to insulate the exterior of the foundation walls with a rigid insulation board and a water-proof coating under that board that covers the entire foundation, from the footing all the way up to just below where finished grade will be.
A perimeter drainage system needs to be carefully designed and consist of perforated plastic pipe, per washed gravel, along with a good quality filter fabric especially in areas with poor soil drainage. This will help in keeping the rock free from dirt allowing the water to filter down into the perforated pipe.
For an existing home, adding insulation to the interior of the foundation is probably a more cost effective alternative. Plus, there’s a wide selection of materials available for almost every type of insulation.
If your foundation wall is masonry blocks, you can fill the cores of your blocks with high-pressured foam. This works far better than most of the other methods.
When insulating a Slab-on-grade the following ways should be done. You should insulate under the slab along with the edges of the slab, and between the footings and slab. This will reduce heat loss from both the foundation and the slab.
Remember that all exposed insulation needs to be protected from the elements in some way, whether using cement, metal, or some other kind of membrane.
For new construction insulation follow these guidelines: first comes about four inches of gravel and under-slab drainage and plumbing pipes, a layer of radiant barrier that is approved for concrete use, then one to two inches or rigid insulation, followed by two to three inches or sand, and lastly is the floor slab.
A floating floor is another alternative, which consists of – a finished wooden flooring (top), rosin paper and two layers of ½ inch plywood or OSB. Followed by a stiff foam board insulation. This will be quite easy to install and isolate the floor from the earth below.
Regardless of the method you choose, by properly insulating your foundation you will make sure your radiant heat system runs efficiently and effectively for years to come.